Back to School Tips for Every Type of Kid

By Dr. Brad Schwall 

Is your child a worrier, a perfectionist, or a wallflower? Every type of temperament requires its own strategies for gearing up to get back to school. Look for the type of child you have in the list below and learn what you can do to guide and encourage your child. 

The Perfectionist  

    • Avoid giving too much attention to performance 
    • Model rational thinking - "Things won't always turn out perfectly." "All I have to do is my best."
    • Help your child focus on enjoying the process - enjoying being with teammates, creating something, or learning something new
    • Affirm more than just achievements - affirm effort, creativity, personal qualities

The Sunday Night Worrier   

    • Listen to your child's worries and guide her to problem-solve - list what can be changed and what can't be changed
    • Think about worries he's had in the past and how he has overcome them
    • Discuss the week ahead encouraging your child to believe it's doable
    • Encourage activities that help your child focus on the moment 

The Social Butterfly 

    • Discuss when it is appropriate to socialize and when it’s important to stay on task 
    • Set limits on the use of social media and the amount of texting based on his or her age
    • Encourage kindness and respect
    • Encourage your child for her or his ability to develop friendships 

The Wallflower

    • Recognize the validity of waiting to trust people or understand the scene before interacting
    • Help your child determine the best settings and strategies for making friends that matches his or her style
    • Avoid cajoling her to speak up
    • Remember that not everyone needs or wants the same amount of friends or types of interactions
    • Don't expect your child to have the same style of social interaction as you
    • Affirm your child

The Procrastinator 

    • Break down assignments and tasks into steps 
    • Help your child prioritize homework and activities
    • Set deadlines for the completion of tasks
    • Use a calendar that is easy to read and user-friendly

The Absent-minded Professor 

    • Have a place for everything and keep everything in its place 
    • Stick to a routine 
    • Use checklists 
    • Avoid rescuing, but put systems in place for remembering things

Temperament is not destiny. Labeling our children is counter-productive, but understanding our children can help us know how to respond to them and teach them.

Accept your child for who she is. Recognize your child is growing; becoming and growing into the full embodiment of who she or he is. Focus on helping your child learn skills for handling life rather than trying to reform him to fit a certain mold or achieve an external standard. Be patient. Maturing is a process. Your most important job is to be there for your child showing unconditional love - that is ultimately what will help your child succeed this school year and in life.